"My child's journey"

About: Lanarkshire Community Services / Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services Stobhill Hospital / Skye Unit (Glasgow Adolescent Inpatient Unit)

(as a carer),

I attended the #ENGAGE event at Glasgow Science Centre in November 2015 as it was billed as a get together of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Specialist Children's Services where people could come together and discuss positive and negative aspects of care provided.I was told by one representative that they weren't there to discuss anything along those lines and was promoting a poster of how good mental health in adolescents could best be achieved.

My child has had 2 lengthy stays in Skye House and there have been positive and negative aspects to these stays and I don't want to go into specific details about my child but will point out what I think could be improved and what is already working well.

Areas for improvement:

. Having specialised staff to deal with difficult to treat Bipolar Disorder and other difficult to treat mental health conditions as an expert had to be brought in from England as there was no equivalent in Scotland which is shameful.

. Staffing levels, as there were too many agency nurses and locum doctors which was upsetting for patients as well as being unhelpful

. There is a gym, games room and music room which I believe is rarely used due to low staffing levels.

. Poor attitudes of some staff towards the needs of the young people and their families in Skye House

. Communication between senior nursing staff and staff nurses and support staff was lacking at times

. Staff not listening to parents/carers concerns properly

. Too many young people were allowed to reach crisis point before any intervention takes place

. Psychology was generic and could be greatly improved upon.

. Staff need to remember that the young people in Skye house are ill and should try to reduce the amount of threats to young people who are experiencing difficulties/psychosis that they will involve the police.

. There is a kind of collective bias that has formed in Skye House staff culture where unhelpful views/strategies are accepted and even encouraged and rarely challenged. This does not make a great environment for anyone.


Areas working well:

. There are a number of staff who genuinely care about the young people in Skye House and use humour, activities, and a down to earth, warm and caring approach.

. Occupational Therapists were very helpful with my child but they are spread rather thinly.

. Staff keep a close eye on any young person who is at risk of self-harm or suicide. This is very important as my child was kept safe in a way she could not have been at home and this was very much appreciated. There were times however this could have been better but overall she was kept safe.

. It is a very difficult and emotionally draining job that the staff at Skye House do and they should be supported by their management to be able to do that job well.

I am writing this about Skye House as it is a very valuable and much needed unit but it was not functioning particularly well during my daughter's stay. The problem is that there are too many desperately ill adolescents and too few inpatient places for them which is awful and needs to be addressed properly and not just with a quick temporary fix.

After leaving hospital my child was in the care of the excellent Bellshill/Coatbridge CAMHS team. Dr Sinclair was a great example of what psychiatrists should be like as she put a great deal of effort into making sure my daughter felt listened to and provided welcome advice and help. My daughter also had the CAMHS Intensive Treatment Team working with her and Peter and Marie were very helpful.


Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


Response from Jim Murray, Service Manager, Childrens Services, NHS Lanarkshire

picture of Jim Murray

Dear Darwin,

Thank you for taking the time log your experience here. I will leave Greater Glasgow and Clyde staff to respond to your experience in Skye House.

With regards to the local Bellshill/Coatbridge team I am glad hear that your experience has been positive and that the team have engaged with you in helpful way. I will pass on your sentiments to the team and wish you and your child all the best for the future.

Regards Jim Murray

Service Manager

CAMHS /Paediatrics

  • Darwin thinks this response is helpful
    {{helpful-1}} other {{helpful-1 == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} so too

Update posted by Darwin (a carer)

I think it is very sad that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have chosen not to acknowledge or address any of the very valid points I have made. It is also telling that they have chosen to ignore an emotive account of a patient's own experience in Skye House put up a couple of weeks ago on Patient Opinion.

Politicians were previously keen to discuss the inequality between Mental Health and Physical Health but it now appears to have been buried at the bottom of the pile. Mental Health in Scotland is on its knees and no-one except service users, carers and mental health staff seem to care.

Funding is also at an all time low for mental health research which should be a priority to improve treatments available and less money should be put into Government Quangos for mental health as existing charities should receive resources as it is them that are providing actual real-life assistance to those in need.

Response from Lorna Gray, Patient Experience, Public Involvement Project Manager, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Dear Darwin,

I am really sorry that you have not had a response until now – I had passed your story on to my colleagues at Skye House and know they are looking into the points you have made, however I should have made you aware of that, and so I am really sorry that I didn’t. I have again asked for more detailed response to the points you have raised and so I am sure that I will have more information for you very soon, but I wanted to acknowledge both your postings and my mistake in not responding to you sooner.

I will be back in touch soon,

Best Wishes,


  • Darwin thinks this response is helpful
    {{helpful-1}} other {{helpful-1 == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} so too

Response from Lorna Gray, Patient Experience, Public Involvement Project Manager, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Dear Darwin,

I am sorry to hear that some of the experiences you and your daughter have had whilst she was an inpatient at Skye House were not positive. It is good to hear that there were some staff who you felt had a much better approach. We have training and supervision structures in place which are intended to make sure that all of the staff treat patients with respect and use the same approaches.

I would be happy to investigate your complaint in more detail if you contact the complaints department in NHS GG&C.

You were also concerned that at the time of your stay in Skye House there were a number of locum doctors and agency nursing staff and that led to difficulties. For a period of time we did require to use locum doctors and this did cause some difficulties. We try not to use locum doctors when at all possible however on this occasion we had no other alternatives. I am sorry that this caused some difficulties.

It would have been preferable if you had been able to highlight these issues at the time as we could have helped you during your daughter’s stay in Skye House. We have advocacy staff in Skye House who could have helped support you to do that.

I have raised these issues with our senior staff and will raise them again at further staff meetings.

You may know that Skye House has a 'young people’s group' and I will ask that the issues you have raised, particularly that of attitudes, is highlighted at that group and that young people are offered the opportunity to comment on attitudes and if necessary how we could all help to change them in a positive way.

Stephen McLeod, Head of Specialist Children’s Services, NHS GG&C

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful

Update posted by Darwin (a carer)

Dear Lorna/Stephen,

Most of these issues were highlighted at the time of my daughter's second admission and staff were not helpful. I was repeatedly informed that if there was any aspect of nursing care/policy I was unhappy with I could make an official complaint which I would prefer to have avoided but if that is what you would rather then I will certainly be in touch. I also had no idea there were advocacy staff at Skye House. My daughter has had two lengthy admissions to Skye House and neither of us had any inkling of a 'young peoples group' which sounds like a great thing to have.



Updates, changes and questions related to this story